No. 2 Kee answers, in a big way

State softball: Hawks score 7 in the first, topple Belle Plaine, 11-4

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FORT DODGE — Sometimes, you just know.

“There’s just a feeling about it when you hit the ball hard like that,” Chloe Severson said. “You definitely know it’s gone.”

Second-ranked Lansing Kee spotted Belle Plaine the first two runs, then came roaring back for an 11-4 triumph in Monday’s Class 1A quarterfinal at the state softball tournament at the Rogers Sports Complex.

Kee High (37-6) exploded for seven runs (on nine hits) in the bottom of the first inning, then Severson hit two late home runs as the Hawks advanced to the semifinal round.

They’ll face No. 4 Martensdale-St. Marys (33-6), an 8-0 winner over Charter Oak-Ute, at 5 p.m. Thursday.

“I was pretty confident, even when we were down 2-0,” said winning pitcher Courtney Cooper. “Everybody was hitting well in the cages before the game.”

Then the game began, and it carried over.

Belle Plaine (20-11) took a 2-0 lead after RBI hits by Morgan Straight and Makenzie O’Brien. But Kee High had a swift reponse.

The first five batters collected hits, including an RBI single by Kendra Cooper and a two-run single by Courtney Cooper that put the Hawks ahead for good, 3-2.

But they were far from finished.

Katie Brennan’s single plated a run to make it 4-2, then Makayla Walleser slugged a two-run triple. Nicki Wood’s RBI single capped the scoring for the inning, and it was 7-2.

Cooper (25-3), who was touched for the two early tallies, didn’t allow another hit until the sixth inning. She gave up three earned runs on seven hits, striking out 11.

“It wasn’t my best,” she said. “Hopefully I can improve for the next one.”

The late innings belonged to Severson, who hit a solo shot to right-center field in the fifth, then a two-run bomb to straightaway center in the sixth. Both cleared the outfield bleachers and were in the 240-foot range.

“(Belle Plaine pitcher Katie Cubbage) was a nice hitting speed,” Severson said. “She threw it outside, and I like it outside.”

State newcomer Belle Plaine faces Charter Oak-Ute (25-13) in a consolation semifinal at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The fifth-and seventh-place games are at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

“Offensively, that first inning, we did what we’ve been doing,” said Plainsmen Coach Cathy Cronbaugh. “Defensively, we looked a little nervous. We gave up some runs that maybe we shouldn’t have.

“We’ve got all day (Tuesday) to get over this owie and get ready for Wednesday. These kids aren’t going to give up.”

Kee High was the tournament darling in 2014, reaching the 1A championship game before falling to Akron-Westfield. The Hawks fell short of state last year. But now, they’re back, and they’re hungry.

“We want it all,” Cooper said.

LANSING KEE 11, BELLE PLAINE 4

Class 1A State Quarterfinal, at Fort Dodge

Belle Plaine 200 002 0 — 4 7 4

Lansing Kee 700 013 x — 11 15 3

Katie Cubbage and Makenzie O’Brien. Courtney Cooper and Katie Brennan. W — Cooper (25-3). L — Cubbage (9-4). HR — Chloe Severson 2 (8).

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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